‘I am concerned’: Yellowknife homeless shelter nears capacity

The Salvation Army in Yellowknife.
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Yellowknife’s emergency homeless shelter is nearing capacity as colder temperatures set in, forcing staff to turn people away at its doors.

The Salvation Army has enough space for 49 men per night as set out by the city’s fire division, but on at least two occasions this past week that many people have shown up looking for a place to sleep.

If the building is already at capacity, the only thing staff can do is send people away.

Dusty Sauder is executive director of the Salvation Army in Yellowknife.

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“Over the last couple weeks, we’re probably looking at an average of 42 to 45 per night and over the last couple nights we’ve actually run into the maximum twice,” said Sauder.

“The log book will show how many people were in, but we’ve run into it a couple times for sure and it may have been more.

“Over the last three years, we’re seeing an average increase of about three individuals per night per year.”

On average, Sauder says 20 men will spend their night at the Salvation Army during warmer, summer months. As temperatures dip, he’s concerned more people will be left in the cold.

“If we run into maximum capacity, our protocol is to turn people away,” he said. “We don’t have many other options.

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“I am concerned that we will hit maximum numbers more often as we go into November especially.”

Last year, the Salvation Army was forced to turn people away as many as 15 times. Sauder says he’s working with other local groups to find a solution.

“We continue to work with different levels of government and other NGOs to find solutions, but at the moment we just have to turn people away.”

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